Archive for March 10th, 2008

Homeschooling has its privileges. One of the perks of doing what we do is loving and living our faith in a very personal and rewarding way…living God-centered lives. Being the primary educator of my children, I take my job very seriously. Being the parent of two 14 year-olds has taught me so much of my faith and I am proud to say I love witnessing how my dds live theirs.

The real drawback of doing what we do happens when we have to interact on the parish level. Here I have two very serious young women who are excited and feel privileged to finally be of the age to receive Confirmation. They have studied long and hard…learning not only their catechism but also apologetics, church history and the lives of countless saints and blesseds. In many ways we feel our journey is just beginning…and rightly so. There are so many riches of the Catholic church that are just begging to be learned and learned at this new level of understanding. They are excited that the Holy Spirit will be welcomed into their hearts in a very special way at the end of April. And they know that He will make this new level of understanding of the faith even richer.

We were required to attend the parish retreat. It ran from 2-5:30…(which as it turned out, was an hour later than that before we actually departed which made for a very long afternoon). Because it was “required” I told the DRE that I was attending too. There were approximately 50 confirmandi there. There are those who don’t know their faith, don’t attend Mass, and don’t really want to be there. There are of course exceptions to this but those non-practicing confirmandi do seem to attract the most attention. So much is geared toward them. Then there are the homeschoolers. You know who they are. They are the ones answering the questions. One young man summed it up…”you MUST be homeschoolers…because homeschoolers really seem to know so much about the faith and I don’t even know where they are learning it from!” Oh, we aren’t perfect. There are some things we didn’t get a chance to cover or we can’t remember. But! Our hearts are in the right place.

There was a young college seminarian running the retreat. He spoke of the fact that there is pain in life. He talked about the fact that he was taking drugs, was running in the wrong crowd, was drinking and was with many women. He talked about how he was able to come out of this pain and had a new relationship with Jesus after he went to Confession. He then split the confirmandi into groups and they were encouraged to share the great pains in their lives that keep them away from loving and knowing Jesus. The content was a bit explicit, but it was something that I knew we could look past. Truth be told, I really wish it weren’t part of todays content. I could see that kind of thing being discussed amongst older teens as I knew that some of the kids were not ready for this kind of fare.

So here sat the homeschoolers. They were being coaxed into sharing their stories of pain and they just kept shrugging their shoulders and looking at each other. The truth finally came out that they had NO pain to share. They were happy. The seminarian then said…”So, you are telling me you are just full of God’s love right now?” and of course he got a few more shrugs…. and my dd looks down at her finger and made mention that if she cut her finger they could talk about that kind of pain…other than that…there was nothing to share. The team leader came over and wanted to know how they were doing and the answer was “these kids have no pain! They are just glowing with the happiness of God!”… hmmm

So instead of talking about our deep seeded “pain” that we were not sharing, I ended up engaging the young seminarian in conversations about vocations, their seminary and the chapel that was being renovated. I felt encouraged to learn that this chapel was being renovated by the same person that did Mother Angelica’s temple in Alabama…nice!

By the end of this retreat the confirmandi were told to write their pain on a piece of paper and then were told that it wasn’t a piece of paper…it was REAL. I found out that my dds and their young homeschooling friend had blank papers. They were later led outside to burn these papers and my dds and their friends burned blank papers. The DRE came up to me and asked me how I liked the retreat. I just shrugged my shoulders in a non committal way and I said, “Do you see those 3 young girls up there? They have nothing to write on their papers. ” I was then told that the children of large families are sheltered and they need to know how the world works…like just look at the Amish! So that is why they needed this. OH boy…So I told her that they were most definitely NOT “too sheltered” (The basic premise of the young seminarian running the retreat was that you have to make a choice of pain or Jesus in your life and you have to let go of the pain and realize God’s love) they interact with many people but they ALREADY freely choose to have Jesus be an intimate part of their lives.

I understand that the DRE sees all kinds of unfortunate things…but having this misguided fear of the unworldliness of homeschoolers and her having to do something about it is something based in ignorance. Sometimes I really feel like we don’t belong in situations like this one except maybe to be a good witness or educate others. We are waaay past where they are but don’t lord it over anyone. My friend Bridget summed it up so well when we were talking about such things on Magnum Opus…

“I know they need our prayers and good example, but it’s always the special Masses, sacraments and holidays, that are painful. The ones we long for the most spiritual peace and fulfillment. It’s another one of the crosses of our times I guess.”


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